Long before the days of microtransactions, video games used to have cheat codes. We didn’t buy our way to the end of the games. Instead, we entered a random string of buttons to give us invincibility or the ability to warp to the end of the game.
Even better, there was no internet, so these codes were often passed around by other kids at school or printed in magazines, requiring some digging on the part of the gamer. But once we knew the codes, they were ingrained in our heads just like our phone number or the channel number of the scrambled adult channel on cable.
1. The Konami Code
When it comes to video game cheats, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the Konami code. Pressing “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A” had a wide range of effects in various games. Just about every video game fan has entered this code at one time or another, as it’s been used and replicated repeatedly since it was first used in retro Konami games like Contra.
2. Doom: God Mode
Doom is a pretty hard game that helped define what a first-person shooter is today. To make it easier, developers ID Software tucked a handy God Mode cheat into the game that would make you invincible. The code was “IDDQD,” which is “ID” for the game’s developer, and Delta-Q-Delta, for a fraternity formed by programmer Dave Daylor during college.
3. Mortal Kombat: Blood Code
This is one of these codes that circled its way through elementary schools around the world. No one actually wanted to play the watered down, non-gory version of the classic fighting game, after all. Hence kids everywhere knew that hitting “A, B, A, C, A, B, B” on the Code of Honor screen would lead to Scorpion yelling “Get over here,” letting them know they’ve correctly unlocked blood mode in all its messy glory!
4. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out: Fight Tyson Right Away
Punch Out is an excruciatingly difficult video game, and the fight against Mike Tyson is one of the most intense boss fights in the history of games. After fighting all comers, the battle against Tyson can feel impossible. Thankfully, there’s a well-known cheat code that lets you skip all the other fighters and take on the champ right away, and most gamers were well aware of this cheap back in the day. Simply entering the password “0073735963” would get you there, but really, getting to Tyson is only the beginning of the miserable (though ultimately satisfying) journey.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog: Level Select
You could play through every level in Sonic, but who has time for that? Instead, old-school gamers knew to simply hit “Up, Down, Left, Right, A + Start” to unlock the ability to play any level you want. Do you get the satisfaction of beating the game legitimately? Well, no, but you do you get to feel like you stole something by playing the last level of the game (and probably failing at it) right away!
6. NBA Jam: Big Head Mode
If you went to an arcade that had an NBA Jam cabinet, or if you owned the game on a home console, you probably knew how to make your characters have ridiculously large heads. All you needed to do was hold the “Up, Turbo, and Steal” button until the tipoff to give all the players bulbous craniums. Did it make the game any different? Not really, but it was one of these cheats that never seemed to get old!
7: The Sims: Money, Money, Money
As I remember it, there were two ways to play The Sims: you sent your Sims to work and tried to scratch and crawl your way into the cool stuff, or you just hit Ctrl+Shift+C to bring up the console and you typed Rosebud over and over again until you had millions of Simoleons. Once you had all the money, you were free to build whatever you wanted, and that’s a great thing!
Cheat On, Cheaters!
In the history of video games, cheats have almost always been around. While they’re less common in today’s games, they still exist. But while there have been literally thousands of cheats in gaming’s relatively short history, none compare the ones above.
Even at the ripe age of 32 years old, I was able to remember some of these cheats without looking them up, in spite of not having used them in years!